Boundaries are there to protect you and keep you feeling safe and comfortable. They’re good for you, and others are supposed to respect them. It sounds easier than it is, so you might find it difficult to set boundaries in existing or new relationships. Use these 10 ways to set healthy boundaries:
1. Name your boundaries.
Visualize your limits and try to name them. Think about what causes you unnecessary discomfort or stress, what you are exhausted by, and what you dread doing. Also think about what you look forward to, and what makes you feel safe, energized, valued, and supported. Create a circle in which you’ll write down everything that makes you feel good and write the things that make you feel bad outside of the circle. The circle is a manifestation of your boundaries that you can actually see, and now you need to define it.
2. Openly communicate your limits.
There’s no use in setting boundaries that you’re not going to tell anyone about. Don’t assume that others know your boundaries, clearly communicate them, and react when someone pushes them. Be perfectly clear about your boundaries to leave no room for assuming that you might be okay with something that you’re not okay with. Say things like “Please ask me first when you want to borrow something from me” or “It makes me uncomfortable when you touch my things, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that anymore.” The point is to speak up about what bothers you in a respectful yet determined way. One of the ways to set healthy boundaries is to tell people about them, but that’s not enough if you’re not going to repeat it.
3. Be consistent with your decision.
Boundaries are the rules of your relationship, and you need to be direct and precise when you communicate them. However, you also need to be consistent. A lot of people won’t even understand, let alone respect your boundaries right away. You will have to stick to your decision and kindly remind them when necessary. Don’t shift your boundaries for their comfort, stay consistent.
4. Say no.
Use the power of “no” to draw the line. You have the power to decide what you want to do with your life. If something doesn’t feel right, say “no” to it. Don’t be rude when saying “no” unless you have to, but also know that you don’t owe anyone an explanation or an apology after saying “no” to them. Communicating things clear is always a better idea than saying “maybe” when you really want to say “no”.
5. Have “me time” and practice self-care.
Taking some time to yourself is good for your overall well-being. Schedule alone time every now and then and make sure to let others know that you won’t be available. Take care of yourself, and do what makes you happy. Read, do yoga, or whatever it is that helps you relax. Practice self-care, and it will be easier to set boundaries with other people.
6. Different relationships need different boundaries.
Boundaries are different depending on the people involved and the situation you’re in. For instance, you probably have flexible boundaries in your intimate relationship while fairly rigid boundaries in your professional life. Don’t hesitate to set rigid boundaries in relationships with your family members too, especially if they’re overbearing.
7. Let your personal values guide you.
What are the things that you highly value? For instance, if you value your religion, you won’t accept working on certain dates that are important in your religion. Know what your values are, and don’t hesitate to prioritize them when setting boundaries.
8. Set boundaries early in relationships.
Setting boundaries in pre-existing relationships can be very difficult. So, one of the ways to set healthy boundaries is to set them early, right from the start of the relationship. This is a lot easier than changing the way things already function in a relationship. However, make effort to set boundaries in your existing relationships too, and start small. Make sure to set them early on in any new relationships too.
9. Love yourself.
A sense of self-worth is what helps you take care of yourself by setting clear boundaries. You protect yourself by doing so, and if you don’t set boundaries it might be because you don’t love yourself enough to care about your safety and comfort. Learn to love yourself more and do more of the things that make you feel good about yourself and happy.
10. Trust your gut.
Trust your gut when setting boundaries. As human beings, we are quite intuitive, so you will be able to tell what’s right for you and what’s not. Don’t feel the need to explain yourself or apologize to anyone, and listen to your gut!